I traveled to Haiti last week and even though it was my third trip I was overwhelmed with an array of emotions as if it was my first time. I have had the opportunity to travel to Haiti twice on mission trips in June 2007, June 2010 and then this time which was the same dates almost exactly as the two previous trips. The scene was really much the same, the poverty, smells (mostly bad ones) and the overall sense that the beautiful people in this land live with so little. I was constantly bombarded with reminders of their poor conditions from their beyond modest living conditions, no running water for most of the population, the sewage running in the streets, the half-naked children and much more. Haiti has a high number of children and as I watched these children live and try to be kids in such an environment I could not help but think of my own children who were born in the USA and who have so much!! We truly are so spoiled! Now I know not everyone living in the USA is wealthy or privileged but by Haiti’s standard, trust me you are! Most of you have running water, A/C and more food that you actually need to survive! I will share more on that later as well as the improvements that have been made in the 3 years since my last trip which really give me hope for Haiti. I have volumes to write on what I saw and experienced so I will try to give you small snap shots of several highlights over the course of the next few posts as not to bore you. Thanks in advance for reading!!
I arrived in Jacmel which is a small community 3 hours South by bus of Port-au-Prince, which is the capitol city. Our first full day was Friday, June 21st which happened to be Todd's birthday. He would have been 44. It is sort of cool that our previous trips had fallen on his birthday so when I was praying over and planning this trip I thought if I can make it work I want to celebrate his birthday again in Haiti. Here is a picture of the last time we were in Haiti on June 21, 2010 enjoying a cake that the sweet Haitian women made for him to celebrate his birthday!
So as I sat in the Restore Haiti office in Jacmel this past June 21st I was reminded of Todd’s great love for people. One of our youth students Moms shared the following blog post her son wrote (see the link below) on June 20th and little did he know that I would be reading it the next day, on his birthday!! I feel like God gave me that little present just to say, “I love you” and to comfort me as well as remind me of just how much my husband impacted so many and the effects his life is still having!! What a legacy!!
I was asked to share a message with the women in the village church that night at their weekly Bible Study. I chose to share, Philippians 4:4-8, Rejoice, Pray and Think. This is the part of scripture where Paul is writing under house arrest in Rome yet still says we must Rejoice in the Lord and he even says it again Rejoice! He is a man very familiar with suffering which he shares a long list in 2 Corinthians 11:23-30… I talked of my struggles through my parents divorce, losing my sister Carla, infertility struggles, failed adoption and the most recent test/trial with the sudden passing of my husband, 22 months ago. I shared how like Paul we can have joy even in our tests and trials because JOY comes from Jesus not our circumstances. This is definitely easier said than done, believe me I know!! I promise though if you just try it and ask the Lord to help you find JOY that can only come from him, it makes a world of difference in your life! I am still trying to learn this, I am a work in progress. =) This was my first time speaking in a foreign country so I had to work through a translator which definitely was different. I was not sure if any of the women were getting anything but I trusted God to use my words and allow the translation to be exactly what they needed to hear.
So I was not surprised when several days later a women named Daphka came up to me with a translator and shared how she heard me talk and was very encouraged by what I said. She said that when I said, "you need to rejoice even in your tests and suffering and I mentioned different things that they may be going through and I said, some of you may be struggling with cancer." She said, "I have cancer! She also said, she knew that she could Rejoice even in her cancer, WOW!! She said she believed God was going to heal her!" I told her I was so glad she came and shared that with me. I also told her I realized that God brought me to Haiti to share with her! I asked her if I could pray for her, she said, "Yes!" We found a quiet spot and I held her hands and prayed, that God in His sovereignty would heal her body of the cancer in Jesus name!" When I was done tears were streaming down her cheeks. We hugged and I told her that God loved her and I loved her and that I would pray for her everyday. She and her husband are the house parents for a houseful of orphans and she has an incredible heart for the Lord. Please join me in praying for healing for Daphka!!
So that was only one snap shot from part of one day!! I am blown away with all that God allowed me to be a part of! Stay tuned for more snapshots of Kodak moments as Todd used to call them from the other days of the trip. It is said when you travel to Haiti you leave part of your heart there. Well since this was my third trip I am realizing more and more of my heart is remaining there!! I can't help but think about and plan my next trip. I am beyond grateful to be back home. Being away from my kids is the hardest part of going but thanks to MiMi and PaPa they did great!! I am so grateful to them for caring for Jackson and Bethany so I could take this trip!
Living For More, Cassi
Philippians 4:4-8 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.